The Evolution of Tantric Ritual: March 14-16, 2014

Conference/Symposium: Center for Buddhist Studies | March 14 | 5-6:30 p.m. | Alumni House, Toll Room

 Center for Buddhist Studies

Friday–Sunday, March 14–16, 2014

The Evolution of Tantric Ritual


Friday – Saturday: Toll Room, Alumni House, University of California, Berkeley

Sunday: 370 Dwinelle Hall, University of California, Berkeley

The advent of tantric religion in seventh- and eighth-century India changed the face of religious practice across all of Asia. At the heart of these transformations stood the new ritual technologies that the tantras and their attendant manuals introduced. The tantras included new myths, cosmologies, deities, and rhetorical strategies of rulership, secrecy, and transgression, but all of these elements referred to, and revolved around, the complex rituals that formed the core of tantric religiosity. This conference turns a lens on the early development of these rites. The heyday of tantric ritual development was the seventh to the eleventh centuries, and these years will be our principal focus. By bringing together textual scholars working across a range of religious traditions in Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese, we seek to investigate how specific ritual procedures or sequences change over time, across sectarian boundaries, and between cultural regions. Through our discussions, we will attempt to shed light on the early evolution of this highly complex and esoteric religious movement.

Conference Schedule

Friday (Toll Room, Alumni House):

5:00: Opening remarks
5:15-6:30: Keynote by Ronald Davidson, Fairfield University
Pre-tantric Traditions, Ritual Fluidity, and the Problem of Mudrās

Saturday (Toll Room, Alumni House):

9:30-12:00: Brahmanical Roots
Shingo Einoo, University of Tokyo
Ritual Devices to Become a God in Vedic and post-Vedic Rituals

Marko Geslani, Emory University
The Dreams of the King: On the Overnight Structure of Royal Consecrations

Shaman Hatley, Concordia University
The Sword's Edge Observance (Asidhārāvrata) and the Early History of Tantric Coital Ritual

1:00-3:00: Tantric Intertextuality
Ryan Damron, UC Berkeley
Purāṇic Inflections: Visions of the Mahādevī in a Buddhist Yoginī Tantra

Paul Hackett, Columbia University
On the Construction of a Sādhana from a Root Tantra: A Case Study in the Guhyasamāja System

Kurt Keutzer, UC Berkeley
Evolution of Bon Ritual around the Figure of dBal-chen Ge-khod

3:00-3:15: Coffee break

3:15-5:30: The Tantric Body
Péter Szántó, University of Hamburg/University of Oxford
How to Organize a Gaṇacakra?
David Gray, Santa Clara University
Body Mandalas in the Yoginīītantras
Yael Bentor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Body in Buddhist Tantric Meditations

Sunday (370 Dwinelle Hall):

9:30-12:30: The Sexual Yogas
Kikuya Ryūta, Tohoku University
Two Steps (dvikrama-) in the Jñānapāda School of Indian Tantric Buddhism

Jacob Dalton, UC Berkeley
Domesticating Sexual Union: A Case Study from Dunhuang

Christian Wedemeyer, University of Chicago
Ritualization of Transgressive Observances: Vratadānavidhi-s in the Guhyasamāja Traditions

Harunaga Isaacson, University of Hamburg
Title and abstract TBA, 510-643-5104